If you have read the previous book reports you will have seen the author Arturo Perez-Reverte before. I have sung his praises as a storyteller before also. Now in The Flanders Panel, Perez-Reverte does it again.
This book has main character Julia, a young art restorer, with the use of current technology, has uncovered, an until now, inscription hidden on a Fifteenth Century painting.
I always have trouble with the difference in dates and centurys. Don’t know why but it confuses me. Anyway this painting was supposedly done in 1471.
Perez-Reverte does a such a job with the description that you feel, at least I did, compelled to look up the painting to see if it is real. Could this be a story that was conceived after the author saw the original painting. Something like “The Girl with the Pearl Earrings”. This should not spoil the story, but it is not. The painting is the creation of the author.
The original copyright is 1990 and this leaves the reader to believe that the setting is the mid to late eighties. As with the other books I’ve read by Perez-Reverte this is also set in Spain. The customs and habits of the locals and characters could seem a bit out dated for an American or today’s reader. Lots of smoking, casual drug use, and land line phones make to date the read. This did not hinder the story in any way. At times I thought of an old black and white film while reading. (She the face of an angel and the body of a sinner. I knew she was trouble as soon as she said “hello.” But with gams like that I didn’t care.)
As I said before I went to “black and white”. The female character “Julia” is an art restorer that finds something that was covered by the artist. The painting titled “The Game of Chess” becomes more valuable because of its provenance. Julia enlists the help of her mentor and surrogate father, and a chess master, to help solve a crime that may have been committed more than 500 years earlier.
During the research into the history of the painting the trio find themselves in danger and discover more of the seamy side to world of art and antiquities.
As always Arturo Perez-Reverte weaves a good story that keeps the reader involved and interested. I do like to keep my “Google” close to help me with definitions and in this story, Latin translations. But that shouldn’t keep you from enjoying “The Flanders Panel”.
Next up, Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley copyright 2009. This book was suggested by a reader, my sister. You will see the report soon, because it read very fast.